Craniosynostosis and other conditions related to misshapen heads

Craniosynostosis is a condition in which the skull sutures in a baby's head close prematurely, causing a misshapen head. However, not all babies with misshapen heads have craniosynostosis.

  • Some newborns have misshapen heads as a result of their position in the mother's womb or from the birth process. Usually the head shape returns to normal in a few days to a week.
  • During the first few months of life, babies can develop misshapen heads from lying on their backs or lying with their heads to one side repeatedly or for long periods of time. This is especially true since health professionals in the United States began recommending putting babies down to sleep on their backs to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

When the cause of a misshapen head is related to a baby's position, moving the baby's head during sleep may be all that is needed. The head usually returns to its expected shape by the time the baby is about 6 months old. Talk with your health professional about how to position your baby so as to not increase his or her risk of SIDS.

Last Updated: July 13, 2009

Author: Debby Golonka, MPH

Medical Review: Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Michael J. Sexton, MD - Pediatrics

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